I was in the kitchen, washing bottles, as I called over to the kitchen table, “Hey, Evie! Can you tell me your AWANA verse for this week?”
We had reviewed it several times, but I wasn’t sure if she would be able to recall it on her own. But in typical Evie-fashion, she flashed me a smile and said the words to Isaiah 53:6, “I sure do! All we like sheep have gone astray!”
With hands in soapy water, I thought I’d go a bit further and ask her a follow up question.
“Evie, what does it mean to go astray?”
“Oh, that means that you go off and sniff the flowers even though you hear the Shepherd callin’ your name!”
I almost laughed out loud.
What in the world?!?! Where did she get such a notion?
And then I remembered the story from her Cubbie’s book.
In short, Luvie Lamb got lost because she was busy smelling the flowers in the pasture, so Katie Collie had to come rescue her because Luvie got lost. And then the book rehearsed the story found in Luke 15 where Jesus seeks His lone, lost sheep.
That was it.
However, there was no specific connection drawn between the fictional story of Luvie the lost lamb and the Truth found in Luke’s account of the lost lamb; Evie had drawn the connection.
And I laughed and marveled at the Truth of her words.
Yes, yes, and yes.
Sniffin’ flowers instead of followin’ the Shepherd is a PERFECT description of going “astray.”
Isn’t that what those idols do to us? Isn’t that the temptation that draws us away? Isn’t that how we engage with the things of this world? Isn’t that exactly how the enemy works?
Just like those pretty flowers…
we are drawn to the fancy and flashy of fame;
we are led away by the lure and liveliness of love;
we are led away by the attractiveness and appeal of approval;
we are led away by the materialism and majesty of money;
we are led away by the thrill and twinkling of titles;
we are led away by the enchantment and ecstasy of ease;
we are led away by the convincing and comforting of control;
we are led away by the satisfaction and security of stuff;
and on and on it goes.
The truth is…those idols are “pretty” and sometimes they “smell” really, really good.
So when the Shepherd is calling us away from the flashiness of fame and the liveliness of love and is inviting us into obedience, we don’t always want to follow.
When the Shepherd is calling us away from the appeal of approval and the majesty of money and is leading us into holiness, we don’t always want to follow.
When the Shepherd is calling us away from the thrill of titles and the ecstasy of ease and is drawing us into pruning and growth, we don’t always want to follow.
When the Shepherd is calling us away from the comforts of control and the security of stuff and is drawing us into the unknown and new, we don’t always want to follow.
Because yes, Evie, sometimes we would rather “sniff the flowers” than obey the Shepherd.
Friends, I don’t know what God is calling you away from and leading you into, but could I gently encourage you to walk away from those pretty, smelling flowers and trust the Shepherd?
Remember, this Shepherd is the ONE…
who does battle with the enemy to protect His flock;
who knows the names and needs of His lambs;
who has led His sheep to green pastures and living waters;
who has carried and comforted His flock in His mighty arms;
who restores the hearts and guides the souls of His lambs; and
who willingly laid down His life in order to rescue the souls of His sheep.
Friends, this Shepherd is the SAVIOR.
And this is the SAME Shepherd-Savior that has sought the scattered, cared for the perishing, healed the broken, sustained the weary, and left the 99 to find the 1.
He came to find YOU.
So though it’s tempting to frolic in the field and sniff the flowers (neglecting His call and dismissing His leading) may we remember that not a single one of those “flower-idols” ever lived, died, and rose again to rescue our Luvie-Lamb selves.
“For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…” Psalm 95:7